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Commemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York online

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Of the two sons of Homer Wheaton, the
elder, Isaac Smith, died in November, 1872;
Charles, the younger son, was a graduate of
the College of St. James at Hagerstown, Md.,
and a tutor there for two years. He then
studied law in the office of Thompson &
Weeks, of Poughkeepsie, was admitted to the
bar, and entering the office of Silas Wodell,
then district attorney, he became assistant
district attorney. In 1863 he was elected
county judge, and on the resignation of Judge
Homer A. Nelson, who had been elected to
Congress, he was appointed to fill his un-
e.xpired term in addition to that for which he
had been chosen. He declined a renomina-
tion, and never again held a public office, al-
though as an ardent believer in the principles
of the Democratic party he valiantly led a
"forlorn hope" several times against the
overwhelming Republican majority of his dis-
trict. He seemed to care nothing for defeat;
the cause was all that he considered; the
principles which he held dear filled him with
enthusiasm, in which the thought of self had
no place. He was candidate for Congress in



1866, for the U. S. Senate in 1873 (against
Roscoe Conkling), and for State Senator in
1877, bearing the party standard as gallantly
as if success instead of defeat were assured.
He was frequently a delegate to State Conven-
tions, and on several occasions was chairman,
his clearness of intellect and judicial fairness
making him an ideal presiding oflicer. He
held minor offices of public trust, fulfilling
their duties with scrupulous care, serving on
the board of education, and on the board of
managers of the Hudson River State Hospital
for many years. With his high intellectual
endowments, and a manner which never failed
to establish a spirit of good-fellowship, it has
been a matter of surprise to many that he did
not make use of opportunities for distinction
in public life which arose from time to time.
But he was genuinely indifferent to official
honors for himself, and preferred rather
to help his friends, when victory was
probable, than to enter into competition
with them. Again, his high sense of
honor has stood in his way on more than
one occasion, and the story is told that
in 1879, during the preliminary campaign for
the nomination of a governor, a friend asked
his support for the State Treasurership. Judge
Wheaton's promise was readily given, and
when he was afterward notified by several
delegations that he could be named for gover-
nor if he so desired he informed them that he
could not accept the nomination as his promise
had been given to support a Dutchess county
man for the Treasurership, and two could not
be chosen from that county. Had he been
nominated, he could certainly have been
elected, as he would have reconciled all fac-
tions. Public opinion is united in the belief
that had he possessed greater ambition, and a
less scrupulous sense of honor, he would have
filled a larger place in the public eye. This is
doubtless true, but one may well question
whether he would have found in official place
and power the satisfaction which private life
afforded one of his temperament. A lover of
books and travel, of home and all the refine-
ments of cultured society, it is no wonder that
he turned from the turmoil of political life
with perfect contentment. He died Tuesday,
May II, 1886, at the early age of fifty-two,
after a brief illness. The funeral services were
held in St. Paul's Church at eleven o'clock,
Friday, ^fay 14, and the sad event was marked
by sincere grief among all classes. The mem-

bers of the Dutchess County Bar, who attend-
ed the funeral in a body, passed the following
resolutions of condolence and respect:

Whereas, Tht- members of the bar of the County of
Dutchess have learned, with threat sorrow, of the death
of th^ Hon. Cliarles Wheaton, and have met in council to
publicly express their appreciation of the man and their
sympathy with his family:

Rewired, That in the loss of our well-beloved associate
and friend, ever upright, courteous and generous, pure of
character, honest of purpose, filling every position with
sagacity and courage, never faltering or hesitating in fol-
lowing his convictions of duty, a profound lawyer and
learned man, an impartial and clear-minded judge and a
wise counsellor, always ready to aid the younger and less
experienced of his associates, and a firm and steady
friend, we desire to place on record an expression of our
common loss, and to his family our condolence and our
sympathy in their bereavement.

On further motion it was resolved that, out
of respect for the deceased brother, the mem-
bers of the bar attend the funeral.

Judge Wheaton was married in Pough-
keepsie, October 26, 1859, to Miss Caroline
Barculo, who survives him. They had five
children: Barculo, born September 24, 1861,
died at the age of thirteen; Louisa, born Au-
gust 6, 1863, is a sister in the order of The
S. H. C. J. at the convent at Sharon Hill,
Penn., near Philadelphia; Isaac Smith, born
December 13, 1864, resides at Lithgow, and
is married to Helen Marguerite Fairchild, of
New York; Frank died at the age of fourteen
months; and Agnes, born January 19, 1870, is
in the convent at Sharon Hill. A few years
after his marriage Judge Wheaton built the
brick mansion in North Hamilton street, which
faces Mansion square near the intersection of
Mansion street. There his children were born,
and there he accumulated his library. He
was rarely absent from home, and never for a
long period of time. He made an extended
trip through Europe in 1880 in company with
his family, and returned with probably acuter
and more appreciative knowledge of what he
had seen than most travelers gain. Extensive
reading had prepared his mind for the scenes
and objects he was to visit; therefore, sight of
them was had with a relish that was keen and
intelligent. He loved to talk of his experi-
ences; those that were vital with humor or
exhibited striking phases of human nature were
narrated by him with bright phrases and a
verbal coloring that indicated his many-sided
apprehension. His amusements were all of
an intellectual character; outdoor diversions
seemed to have but little attraction for him.
In his younger manhood his physique was


almost perfect, his sound health imparting a
ruddiness to his skin and a brightness to his
eyes that set him forth one of the handsomest
of men. These qualities, added to his native
honhoiiiii\ made him especially attracti\e. His
courtesy toward women, and good fellowship
with men, assured him a lasting popularity. It
can be said with literal truth that Charles
Wheaton was one of Nature's noblemen. His
intellect was a noble gift; his perceptions were
of the keenest, his powers of expression supe-
rior; he apparently lacked nothing of a thor-
oughly-equipped mind. His knowledge of his-
tory was wide and e.xact; perhaps few men in
this State e.xceeded him in the wealth of mid-
dle-age and modern history. Polite literature
was a favorite study in his younger years, and
as he approached the end of half a century of
life his literary tastes and reading were una-
bated. He was especially informed concern-
ing the literature of the Elizabethan, the Queen
Anne and the Georgian eras of English drama,
oratory and belles lettres. The law seemed to
possess more attractions for him in his early
manhood than in his later years, and while
such attractions receded from him, the allure-
ments of modern and coetaneous literature
exerted their spell upon his receptive mind.

Hon. Seward Barculo, the father of Mrs.
Charles Wheaton, was the son of Rev. George
Barculo, who, at the time of his son's birth,
September 22, 1808, was pastor of the two
churches at Hopewell and New Hackensack,
Dutchess county. Seward was a favorite of
his uncle. Jacobus Swarthout, with whom he
spent much of his time in boyhood, and who
adopted him and provided for his education.
As a boy he was remarkable for the active and
mischievous turn of his mind, while he was at
the same time truthful, generous, fearless, and
firm. He began his academic course in De-
cember, 1826, at the academy in Fishkill vil-
lage, then under the charge of Rev. Cor-
nelius D. Westbrook. He prepared for col-
lege at Cornwall, Conn., and entered the
freshman class at Yale in September, 1828,
remaining until August, 1830, when owing to
some difficulty with the Faculty he received
an honorable discharge and went to Rutgers
College, N. J. He was a year in advance of
his class there, and after three months he re-
turned home; the Faculty being displeased at
this step, expelled him, and this ended his
college course. He commenced the study of
law with S. Cleveland, Esq., of Poughkeepsie,

and was admitted to the bar in the spring of
1834. He then began to practice under cir-
cumstances which, though generally deemed
favorable, are in reality a disadvantage to a
young man anxious to commence the trial of
causes at nisi prius. He entered into part-
nership with Mr. Cleveland, whose many cli-
ents were always desirous that he should per-
sonally conduct their cases. The junior part-
ner rapidly acquired confidence, and began to
try his skill unaided by senior counsel, and as
Mr. Cleveland was in New York much of the
time, the young man gradually assumed the
business of the office with credit to himself
and satisfaction to his clients. He was ap-
pointed judge of the county court in April,
1845, by Gov. Wright, on the unanimous
recommendation of the Dutchess County Bar,
and in 1846 was appointed circuit judge by
Gov. Wright. In 1847 he was elected one of
the justices of the supreme court for the Sec-
ond District, and drew the longest term, serv-
ing six years and a half.

Judge Barculo had no negative character-
istics; none of the easy and facile utterance of
non-committal expressions which mark the
weak and mediocre man who aims at political
"availability." He was an extensive reader,
possessed of fine literary taste, and he took
great interest in the public library of the city
of Poughkeepsie. Horticulture was a favorite
pursuit with him, and his varieties of straw-
berries, peaches, pears and other fruits became
quite celebrated in his section. To the cul-
ture of the grape he paid especial attention,
and the manufacture of wine, of which he left
some fine varieties. Some valuable papers
were written by him for the " Horticulturist,"
on the varieties and management of fruit.

In 1846, 1850 and 1854, he visited Europe,
as much for the sake of being on the ocean as
to observe for himself the manners and cus-
toms of foreign society, and the machinery of
their social and political life. His fondness
for the water amounted to a passion. He
owned a sail boat, and would occasionally hoist
sail and pass down the river to New York City,
across the bay, and up the Shrewsbury river,
where he would spend weeks in sailing and
bathing. During his last trip to Europe his
health failed perceptibly while he was in Lon-
don and Paris, but he never complained. Al-
ways kind and considerate to those about him,
he would insist upon going with his young friends
to places of interest, that their visit might not be



marred by his afflictions. Finding himself
growing feebler, in June, 1854, he turned his
face homeward, his one wish being to die in
h-s own home, surrounded by those who were
near and dear to him. But that home he
never reached, for on June 20, 1854, he died
in New York City. His unconscious dust re-
posed for a while in its desolate halls, and
then —

Gently wi- laid him down to rest,
With his own white- roses upon his breast.

He was buried with the solemn ritual of the
Episcopal Church, of which he was a member,
on June 22, 1854, in the cemetery which,
shortly before his departure for Europe, he
was most active in procuring, as if in prophetic
knowledge that he would soon occupy it.
Eleven weeks later, September 4, 1854, in
Poughkeepsie, his only son, Sidne}', was killed
by an accidental fall, and their remains rest
side by side.

On May 12, 1834, Judge Barculo was mar-
ried to Cornelia, daughter of John H. and
Sarah (Somerindykei Talman, of New York
City. His wife survives him with two daugh-
ters — Caroline T., born March i, 1835, ^nd
Marion, born June 5, 1S36: Cornelia F., born
March 31, 1851, died August 6, 1881.

It is one of the consolations of a good man
that his memory shall not die; that the re-
membrance of his services and virtues shall be
preserved as an inheritance to his children,
and as an incentive to others who may be
treading the arduous path of public life. The
sentiment, which seeks its gratification in the
desire for honest fame while we live, may
legitimately be extended to posthumous re-
nown. It is a premonition and prophecy that
we are not all mortal, but that something sur-
vives and claims a consciousness of the char-
acter it leaves behind. Judge Barculo well
merited the epitaph inscribed upon his monu-

In Society, an Ornament;
In the State, a Judge, fearless, dignified and incorruptible;

in fiabit, simple and pure.

He died young, but mature

In usefulness and fame,
Adorning Jurisprudence by the clearness of his decisions,

And illustrating Religion by

The Strength of his Faith.

_ ceased). The subject of this memoir, a
native of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess county, born
August 31, 1829, was at the time of his death

characterized by one of the Poughkeepsie
journals as " the first citizen of this city and
county." This unusual tribute was deserved.
The son of John M. Nelson, a Dutchess county
farmer. Judge Nelson achieved a prominent
place in State and National affairs, solely by
virtue of his inherent abilities. He was edu-
cated at the Dutchess County .Academy, and
afterward studied law in the offices of Tallman
& Dean, Varick & Eldridge, and Hon. Charles
H. Ruggles, ail of Poughkeepsie, and at twenty-
one years of age was admitted to the bar.

He at once began to attract attention as a
lawyer by his keen analysis of legal questions,
while in politics he was speedily recognized as
a leader of the local Democratic party. In
1855, when but twenty-si.x years old, he was
elected judge of Dutchess county, being the
youngest man ever chosen to that office. He
served upon this bench with distinction for two
terms. In 1859 he was renominated unani-
mously, and re-elected bj- a large majority,
notwithstanding the fact that all the other
candidates on the Democratic ticket were de-

At the breaking out of the war of the
Rebellion he was made colonel of the 167th
Regiment, N. Y. \'. I., and would have
accompanied his command to the front but for
the urgent pleading of his numerous friends,
who prevailed on him to take his seat in Con-
gress, where they considered his services would
be of more value to the country at large. In
the fall of 1862 he was elected to Congress,
and in the following year entered upon his
duties there, having, at the special solicitation
of his bosom friend, Mr. Kelly, of Rhinebeck,
resigned his commission in the army. It may
be here mentioned that Col. Nelson's regiment
was among those that suffered most in the
great struggle, a large proportion of its officers
and men having been numbered among the
killed and wounded. In December, 1863, he
proceeded to Washington, and on New Year's
Day, 1864, he was present at a reception held
at the White House, to which all the generals
in the army were invited, the first and only
occasion of the kind during the war.

During his entire Congressional term Judge
Nelson warmly advocated and supported all
measures for the vigorous prosecution of the
war, and the suppression of the Rebellion. The
adoption of the Constitutional .Amendments for
the Abolition of Sla\ery was doubtless due in a
large measure to his efforts, for he was not




only one of the few Democrats to vote for
them, but he also exerted his influence to in-
duce others of his part}' to support them at a
time when they could not have been secured
without a partition of the Democratic vote in
the House of Representatives.

In 1867 he was elected a delegate to the
Constitutional Convention of New York State,
where he rendered conspicuous service, leading
to his nomination and election the same year
as Secretary of State. He was re-elected two
years later by a majority which at that time
was the largest ever given to a Democratic
candidate in the State. His success in this po-
sition was acknowledged even by party oppo-
nents; but he generously declined a re-nomina-
tion for a third term in favor of a friend, Died-
rich Willers, who was his deputy.

After his retirement in 1871 from the office
of Secretary of State, Judge Nelson removed
his law office to New York City, where he was
engaged in litigations of the greatest impor-
tance. He retained his residence at Pough-
keepsie, however, and in 1881 was elected
State Senator from Dutchess county, serving
as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in
which capacity his services were invaluable in
the revision of the penal code. His appoint-
ment by the Governor, in 1890, as a member
of the commission to prepare and propose to the
Legislature amendments to the judiciary article
of the Constitution, was a recognition of his
distinguished services, and of his learning,
ability, and experience as a lawyer. Alto-
gether he was one of the most prominent, act-
ive, and influential members, and during his
career in the House served as chairman of
three committees. As a member of the legal
profession, he was highly popular, not only
with his colleagues, but among all classes, and
was universally respected. At the bar he was
as distinguished as when he sat in both Con-
gress and Senate, and in 1S57 Rutgers College,
New Jersey, conferred upon him the honorary
degree of Master of Arts, in token of the es-
teem in which his abilities had thus early won

With the young men of his time, and es-
pecially with the then struggling law student, or
newly-fledged attorney. Judge Nelson's mem-
ory will be ever held in kindly reverence. To
these he was always considerate and helpful,
encouraging and affable, and none ever came
to him for advice or counsel that was not
cheerfully given. On one occasion, having

delivered an address in the Opera House, a
reporter waited on him with the request that
he, the Judge, would repeat certain points in
his address. The Judge not only immediately
acceded to this, but cheerfully repeated the
whole of the address to the reporter. In fact,
Judge Nelson was one of the most urbane and
courteous of men, and possessed the faculty
of putting at ease all who approached him.
He was also possessed of an extremely gen-
erous heart, was charitable to all deserving
causes, and the poor at all times had his coun-
sel "without money and without price." All
these characteristics, and more, the outcome
of genuine kindliness of heart, were the com-
pletion of his well-rounded character. Physic-
ally he was a man of fine presence, handsome,
standing six feet in height, and well built in
proportion. He was fond of sport, even boy-
ish in his tastes and enjoyments, and de-
lighted to join with children in their games
and sports.

The Judge was married in September,
1S55, to Miss Helen J. Stearns, daughter of a
well-known attorney, John M. Stearns, of
Brooklyn, N. Y. Judge Nelson departed this
life at Poughkeepsie, April 25, 1891, the cause
of his death being heart trouble, and on the
day of his funeral, out of respect to his mem-
ory, the entire business in town was suspended.
He was a member of the State Bar Associa-
tion, and was a Freemason.

Vice-President of the United States, and

ex-Governor of the State of New York, claims
descent from an old French family, one mem-
ber of which (supposed to have been Robert
Comte de Mortain) joined William the Con-
queror, in Normandy, in his famous expedition
to England. This Count Robert had a son,
William, Earl of Moriton and Cornwall, and
from these first of the name in England
sprang many men of renown both in Church
and State.

Prominent among the English Mortons
who early came to America were Thomas
Morton, Esq., Rev. Charles Morton, Land-
grave Joseph Morton, and (I) George Morton,
the ancestor of our subject. He was born
about 1585, at Austerfield, Yorkshire, Eng-
land, and about 1622, accompanied bj- his
wife and five children, he set sail for America,
as one of the "Pilgrims," in the "Ann,"



reaching Plymouth in June, 1623. He did
not long, however, survive his arrival, dying
in June of the following year. He married
Juliana Carpenter, and by her had five chil-
dren: Nathaniel, Patience, John, Sarah and
Ephriam. The mother married a second time,
and died at Plymouth, February, 18, 1665.

(Ill Hon. John Morton, second son of
George and Juliana Morton, was born in
1 6 16- 1 7, and came with his parents in the
"Ann." From Plymouth he removed to Mid-
dleboro, in the same county, and there died,

October 3, 1673. He married I^ettice ,

who married again, and died, February 22,
1 69 1.

(HI) John Morton, eldest surviving child
of Hon. John and Lettice Morton, was born
at Plymouth, December 21, 1650, and died at
Middleboro in 17 17. He married, about 1680,

Phcebe , and after her death wedded,

about 1687, Mary Ring.

(IV I Capt. Ebenezer Morton, fourth child
of John and Mary Morton, was born at Mid-
dleboro, October 19, 1696, and died there in
1750. He married, in 1720, Mercy Foster,
born 169S, died .\pril 4, 1782.

(V) Ebenezer Morton, fourth child of Capt.
Ebenezer and Mercy Morton, was born at
Middleboro, August 27, 1726, and married
there, July 23, 1753, Mrs. Sarah Cobb.

(VI) Livy Morton, fourth child of Ebe-
nenzer and Sarah Morton, was born at Mid-
dleboro, February 4, 1760; removed to Win-
throp, Maine, where his children were born,
but subsequently returned to Middleboro, where
he died July 19, 183S. He married (first)
March 13, 1788, Hannah Dailey, born No-
vember 15, 1760, died in 1807; married (sec-
ond) in 1808, Catherine Richmond, who died
in 1849.

(VII) Rev. Daniel Oliver Morton, A. M.,
eldest son of Livy and Hannah Morton, wasborn
at Winthrop, Maine, December 21, 1788, and
died at Bristol, N. H., March 25, 1852. At
Pittsfield, Vt., August 30, 18 14, he married
Lucretia Parsons, daughter of Rev. Justin and
Electa (Frary) Parsons; she was born at
Goshen, July 26, 1789, died at Philadelphia,
January 11, 1862. Children of Rev. Daniel
Oliver, and Lucretia Morton, all born at Shore-
ham, Vt., were Daniel Oliver, Lucretia Par-
sons, Electa Frary, Levi Parsons, Mary and

(VIII) Hon. Levi Parsons Morton, fourth
child of Rev. Daniel Oliver and Lucretia (Par-

sons) Morton, was born May 16, 1824. Early
in life he became a merchant's clerk, and later
was a merchant in Hanover, N. H., where he
continued until 1850, in which year he entered
the firm of Beebe, Morgan & Co.. then one of
the leading drj-goo^s houses in Boston. In
the following year the firm opened a branch
house in New York, to which Mr. Morton was
detailed as resident partner and manager. On
January i, 1854, he withdrew from the firm
to form the dry-goods commission house of
Morton & Grinnell. In 1863 he established
the banking houses of L. P. Morton tk.
Co., in New York, and L. P. Morton, Burns
& Co., in London. In 1869 the firm be-
came Morton, Bliss & Co., in New York,
and Morton, Rose & Co., in London, where
his principal partner was Sir John Rose,
formerly Minister of Finance, Canada. It
was through this house that the United States
Government paid Great Britain the Halifax
fishing award of five million five hundred thou-
sand dollars. Mr. Morton was one of the
noted American bankers whose advice and as-
sistance were sought by the Treasury Depart-
ment in the movements of specie payments.

Early in his business career in New York
Mr. Morton evinced an interest in public affairs,
and his counsel was frequently solicited in the
political concern of the Republican party,
especially of New York, but not till 1876 did
he enter actively into political life. In this
year he was, without his knowledge, nomi-
nated for Congress by the Republican party in
the Eleventh District, and, although unsuccess-

Online LibraryJ.H. Beers & CoCommemorative biographical record of Dutchess County, New York → online text (page 2 of 183)